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The Birth of Tragedy (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – August 1, 2008
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About the Author
Douglas Smith was born in Winnipeg in 1949. He is a teacher and poet.
Top Customer Reviews
It is a dialectic, Thesis meets Antithesis to beget Synthesis.
The real point is though, after reading the book, you look for these opposing forces in everyday life and find them everywhere. Man and woman, religion and science, good and evil (for rudimentary examples). After reading the book it was apparent how much of this world is constructed out of, and centered on, opposition. It's like Matt Modine's helmet in Full Metal Jacket, man is a creature with inherent duality.
The Birth of Tragedy touches on something so essential and instinctually true to our existence that it can only vaguely be explained in words. Nietszche knows this and presents the concept as eloquently and clearly as it allows. It is up to the reader to take this knowledge as a starting point and explore deeper into their own individual experience and perspective.
These principles offered perspectives on the position of the individual human being, but perspectives that were radically opposed to one another. The Appollonian principle conceived the individual as sufficiently separate from the rest of reality to be able to contemplate it dispassionately. The Dionysian principle, however, presents reality as a tumultuous flux in which individuality is overwhelmed by the dynamics of a living whole. Nietzsche believed that a balance of these principals is essential if one is both to recognize the challenge to one's sense of meaning posed by individual vulnerability and to recognize the solution, which depends on one's sense of oneness with a larger reality. Greek tragedy, as he saw it, confronted the issue of life's meaning by merging the perspectives of the two principles.
The themes of Greek tragedy concerned the worst case scenario from an Apollonian point of view--the devastation of vulnerable individuals. Scholarship had concluded that the chanting of the chorus was the first form of Athenian tragedy. Nietzsche interpreted the effect of the chorus as the initiation of a Dionysian experience on the part of the audience. Captivated by music, audience members abandoned their usual sense of themselves as isolated individuals and felt themselves instead to be part of a larger, frenzied whole.Read more ›
He begins with an explanation of the dual Apollonian and Dionysian tendencies in art. The Apollonian, based on illusion, form, and restrained aesthetic contemplation, is contrasted with the Dionysian, which is characterized by a visceral, ecstatic, transcendental state. To Nietzsche, Greek tragedy was the only art form which was able to merge these two conflicting aesthetics into a successful union. He likens the operas of his then-hero, Richard Wagner, to the tragic drama of ancient Greece, and suggests that this similarity should be a cause of hope for the renewal of the "German spirit."
Crazy? Of course. Nietzsche was not a man noted for his intellectual restraint, and his associative thinking is never wilder or more disputable than in "The Birth of Tragedy." It is this very wildness which would later lead the philosopher to all but disown this book.
But "The Birth of Tragedy" is more than far-fetched theorizing--it is also a penetrating gaze into the destructive side of pure reason and the sunny optimism of the Enlightenment, which Nietzsche posits as being embodied in ancient Greece in the form of Socrates, whose withering, anti-aesthetic thinking Nietzsche finds deadening and repugnant.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If Nietzche were not already dead, this book would convince you to kill him. Plodded through about half of the book and then realized I was doing permanent brain damage to myself. Read morePublished 1 month ago by ajg
Great! I love these Dover thrift editions... wish more were philosophy instead of stories...
I highly recommend "meditations"